Saving America’s radio heritage

Preserving at-risk archival radio broadcasts

Last week, librarians, archivists, and audio preservation enthusiasts from around the country joined forces in a mission to save America’s radio heritage at the first ever Radio Preservation Task Force (RPTF) Conference.

Josh Shepperd, National Research Director for the RPTF, writes: “It’s safe to anecdotally contend that we’ve certainly already lost over 75% of radio history, and perhaps as high as 90%. Why is this important? The short answer is that radio has held a unique and important position in U.S. cultural history. Radio has been a media industry that developed a mature art form through storytelling and entertainment, while acting as a communications technology that has been utilized for community building and public discourse.”

As historic audio recordings dating back to the beginning of the 20th century rapidly deteriorate, the race to digitize and preserve these recordings grows more urgent every day.  And digitization alone doesn’t ensure preservation: in fact, without proper care, digital recordings can be even more vulnerable to loss than physical formats.

At Pop Up Archive, one of our goals is to make recordings searchable for audiences in perpetuity. Check out some moments from 20th century radio history captured in our public archive.

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Voices of Black History: Past and Present

Black history in the making

Beyonce in the music video for "Formation"
Beyonce in the music video for “Formation”

From archival audio holdings to the daily podcasts we index at, Pop Up Archive works with some of the most important voices of the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. In honor of Black History Month, we’ve collected audio that traces issues like discrimination, feminism, and education in African American communities throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

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Search public broadcasting from 1940 to today

American Archive launches multimedia “Reading Room”

Public media fans, rejoice! The American Archive of Public Broadcasting recently made over 7,000 items from their database available for streaming in an online Reading Room. The Reading Room includes audio and video from more than 120 public media stations and archives, with broadcasts dating from the 1940s to the present day.

Don’t know where to start? AAPB has already done some fantastic work to make the collections discoverable with categories and curated collections. Dive deep into topics like broadcasting history, climate change, and civil rights.

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California here I come: Oral histories and tales of arrival in Pop Up Archive

A radio history of California immigration

Listen to firsthand accounts of arrival, detention and otherness. We gather audio from the collections of four great California radio stations — KALW, KCRW, KQED, and KPFA — to hear about the Chinese poems on Angel island detention center walls, the internment of the Japanese, the battle for San Francisco’s International Hotel and the drama of being undocumented.
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Celebrating LGBT History Month

The evolution of the LGBT movement in audio

In June, we offered glimpses into pivotal moments of the LGBT movement. Now, for LGBT History Month, we’re juxtaposing those moments with more recent news. Read on to learn about LGBT history, now and then.

FILE - In this June 26, 1978 file photo, then San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is seen in San Francisco's seventh annual Gay Freedom parade. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this June 26, 1978 file photo, then San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk is seen in San Francisco’s seventh annual Gay Freedom parade. (AP Photo/File)

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Searching 40,000 hours of broadcasting history

Pop Up Archive and WGBH embark on a landmark project to make the American Archive searchablelogos

On August 31, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded $14.16 million in grant funding to libraries across the United States. We’re thrilled to announce that the WGBH Educational Foundation, together with the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and Pop Up Archive, received one of 276 National Leadership Grants.

The $898,474 grant includes transcribing, analyzing, and building crowdsourcing tools for almost 40,000 hours of digital audio from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting over the next two and half years. This will be the first major media archive of its kind: the new American Archive site will integrate full-text, searchable transcripts and crowdsourced metadata for thousands of hours of audiovisual materials.

Read more about the IMLS grantees announced last week.

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